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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

MARILE FRANCO

IT STARTS HERE

Senior Project APRIL 2017

The tomatoes harvested out of Immokalee, Florida are picked by thousands of different hands through strenuous labor. Although conditions and wages have been improving, farmworkers have been, and are still, vulnerable to harsh and unethical working conditions. Farmworkers not knowing their rights leads to oppressive conditions. Due to fear, their plight has often been ignored and voices silenced. These conditions include the lack of basic needs such as water, restroom, and shade access. Women are susceptible to sexual harassment and both genders face physical abuse. There have been cases of modern-day slavery in the United States as recent as 2016.


It Starts Here intends to raise awareness to the general public about the grueling production behind our food. This series of black and white linocuts are intended to show the substandard working conditions of farmworkers everywhere but specifically, the farmworkers that live just forty-five minutes from Florida Gulf Coast University. Not knowing their rights leads to fear and abuse. Every person should be entitled to basic human rights. I am a member of an immigrant familly that has faced discrimination, deportation threats, and negligent working conditions, so I can understand the lives of Immokalee farmworkers. In addition I am currently involved with the Student Farmworker Alliance that works with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to further understand their fight. Fair food, fair wages, and justice for human rights abuses are critical in the industry to prevent the violations and let farmworkers work in dignity.


It Starts Here is a black and white linocut series about those who
harvest our meals. The black and white compositions give a strong contrast to reinforce the harshness I am trying to capture. By printing linoleum blocks on rag paper, the compositions showcase the reality of farmworkers’ labor.  The compositions were carefuly developed to depict farmworkers in a range of ages and facing certain conditions. For example, in the print titled Horas y Horas, the solitary figure with a dramatic, unsettling amount of tomatoes conveys no end to the produce and marginalized work. Portraying leathered and worn hands illustrates the extreme effect on their most precious tool. Uncomfortable working positions, hunched, and tired contribute to the reality in the compositions. The line-work in my linocuts is intended to make the viewer uncomfortable by weight and harshness. I wanted to capture the difficulty of their life through the strong use of line. The printing process makes these renderings more accessible. It also allows for the production of many prints from a single linocut. I chose the printing process to be able to distribute the prints and spread the message further.